A Meaningless Day
Army Group South Ukraine #1
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Germany||3rd SS "Death's Head" Division|
|Soviet Union||1898th Self Propelled Artillery Regiment|
|Soviet Union||42nd Guards Rifle Division|
|Overall Rating, 4 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 609|
|Parent Game||Army Group South Ukraine|
|Maps||2: 12, 25|
|Layout Dimensions||56 x 43 cm
22 x 17 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Army Group South Ukraine||book|
|Battle of the Bulge||maps|
|Road to Berlin||counters|
For the past two days, the German V Corps had been slowly grinding its was toward Pascani. Though the village itself was of little importance, its location on the Seret River offered a natural anchor for the German left flank. With the Soviets massing their forces outside Targu Frumos, the Axis needed to score a quick victory at Pascani so the Romanians could secure the town and SS Death's Head Division could be placed in reserve.
Pascani fell for little actual profit, at it was apparent that a renewed Soviet offensive was imminent and the Romanians would be unable to hold the village. As the need for a mobile reserve was critical, the Germans abandoned the village to concentrate all their assets for the coming battle. Unlike many such tales this one appears to be true, as the situation was desperate and Soviet accounts do not make claims of victory.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|1 Errata Item|
The reduced direct fire value of the SS HMG is 5-5 in Beyond Normandy and Road to Berlin.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
|Bloody Tussle as Soviet Guards come up against the SS|
Pascani 26th April 1944
PBEM Scenario completed : 22nd April 2010
For the past two days, the German V Corps had been slowly grinding it’s was toward Pascani. Though the village itself was of little importance, its location on the Seret River offered a natural anchor for the German left flank. With the Soviets massing their forces outside Targu Frumos, the Axis needed to score a quick victory at Pascani so the Romanians could secure the town and SS Death's Head Division could be placed in reserve.
SS Division Totenkopf’s advance came from the south. Pascani was ahead of them to the north-west and was fronted by a river. Just to the east of this were vast tracks of forest. Further to the east, the ground rose, and it was here, as well as Pascani itself that the Soviet Guards force had dug-in many of their men. The three battalions of SS were confronted with the choice of a frontal assault on Pascani against the two guards’ battalions. This meant crossing a river under fire and its inherent casualty cost, or they could try and take the defended high ground, albeit slowly and attempt to enter Pascani from the east rather than the south. They chose the latter but also left a couple of companies to tie down Pascani’s garrison by occupying the forest east of it. The question was, could they do it in time?
The SS attack began at 0800. Advancing northwards to the high ground, German artillery, mortars and machine-gun platoons laid down a lot of fire on the dug-in enemy positions. However, this was not having the effect desired, with only a few Russian platoons becoming disrupted here and there. German concentrated MG fire was particularly disappointing. The Russians had also managed to unnerve a battalion Sturmbahnfuhrer, who well-liked by his men as he was, showed himself to be less than happy going forward and after surviving an enemy volley was to hide himself in a wood for 3 hours! This translated in the attack not having the élan overall that it should have had perhaps? As the attack continued here, the SS Grenadiers began to flow round the flanks of the defences and probe the outer wings, including that of the 76mm battery on the highest of the ground. Not until 0915 was the overall effect becoming debilitating to the defenders. That said, they too were still ensconced very soundly in their fox-holes and did not look like leaving for some time. The Germans committed the few assault gun Sturmgeschutz III’s they had to the attack and these did help clear out some of the fox-holes. By 0945, the Soviets had lost their artillery battery and around 120 other men, but still the hill was being held.
By now, SS troopers were fast flowing around the flanks of the hill defence in an effort to cut off all links with Pascani that these defenders may have had. Sensing this, some of the Russian guards made a break out effort eastwards and began heading for Pascani. Meanwhile, just outside the town, German and Russian troops were embroiled in the aforementioned forest with perhaps the Soviets getting the upper hand slightly. Initially, the Germans had made headway here assisted by some Soviet friendly fire that inflicted casualties on their own and demoralised others. But the Russians recovered from this and began applying pressure on their ‘attackers’. They managed to disrupt any attempts made by the SS with some degree of success and this was assisted by a platoon of relatively powerful SU-76’s as well. With the help of the assault guns, the guardsmen were certainly blunting the SS probe here and breaking down the attack very well. The SS regiment’s Standartenfuhrer also became a casualty and this stunned any forward movement from their attack for some time as they temporarily became rudderless. The battle was very much on a tight-rope for both sides. But to the east, the Soviets were slowly being nullified and starting to take more casualties. In return, they had knocked out two StGs and effectively demoralised another 4 of them. But the defence was fragmenting and casualties amongst the guards had been high indeed. Even some of those that had made the break for Pascani had been cut down as freed SS platoons harried them pitilessly along with German OBA all the way back towards the town. By this point, with the road cleared eastwards, the rest of the Totenkopf battalions were now all pushing toward Pascani itself. Around 1115 hours, the Germans co-ordinated a massive attack all at once at various key points around the battlefield. In a devastating 15 minutes, around 150 guardsmen fell as casualties, leaving some dangerous holes in the Soviet defence. Now the main road to the town was totally open, and the Germans could begin to eye the complete capture of the Pascani highway. They needed to capture the final 200m just in front of the town, albeit, heavily defended by the Soviet assault guns and well-positioned guard infantry platoons.
Before they could completely push forcefully at the town’s edge, there still remained those powerful SU76’s that had been using their MG’s and HE power to deter the SS infantry advancing. What was left of the disrupted StG’s were ordered forward to tempt the SU’s to commit to a tank duel whilst the German grenadiers filed up close to the engaged SU’s. In all honesty, the StGs were to be sacrificed. The ruse worked, and even better than had been hoped for. As the ponderous disrupted reduced StG platoon came into the sight of the SU’s, the Soviets just could not resist the shot. Unleashing their 76’s, shots flashed forward at the 2 German AFV’s. MISS ! Before the Russians unleashed another volley, the StGs sent off their own one and wiped out two of the four SU’s. Now demoralised and before they knew it, SS Grenadiers swarmed all over them and their supporting infantry and in a very short scrap, the guards and SU’s were completely wiped out. Pascani highway now lay bare before Totenkopf’s boots and the SS could now pressure the town itself.
Meanwhile, the cowering Sturmbahnfuhrer in the wood had composed himself and dashed to the town’s edge to lead the final attack in an Audie Murphy like Red Badge of Courage recovery. The Germans piled all they had on the outskirts of Pascani. All routes to the road were blocked and a two platoon assault group led by a trusted Hauptsturnfuhrer were thrown into the south-east corner of Pascani to tie down Soviet guardsmen there. Remnants of the Soviet defence that were holed up in surrounding woods were surrounded and either eliminated slowly or kept in check by units so that they could not break out. At 1245 hours one final assault was made all along the town’s eastern and south perimeter on a 1km frontage. Though incursions were made, the Soviets clinged to their thin line. From there, the battle was called off any further for the day as the SS had achieved any necessary gains required of them. The main highway was now axis controlled and a high casualty count had been inflicted on the guards. The hard fought battle had been a victorious one for SS Totenkopf this day.
In respect of losses, the Soviets tally of casualties amounted to just short of 700 men and 4 assault guns). The Germans would count 200 casualties and 2 assault guns.
|A game of two halfs|
Played in two sessions, this scenario has an SS battle-group attacking dug in Russian Guard units in a bid to take the town on board 12 and clear the east west road. The SS outnumber the defenders have good OBDA and two STUG platoons in support. The Soviets have better morale but their only armour support is a lone SU76 platoon. During set up the Russkies leave the SMG Company in the town with a INF platoon joining them. The remainder of the defense is clumped in hedgehog fashion around HMG positions in three groups. The SS attack is a thrust to the centre of the board with only 1 company detached to mask the town. The attack start well and pushes the first of the Soviet positions back with some ease although with little loss to the defenders who regroup on the east west road. The second Soviet hedgehog holds out well and the SS begin to encircle the Russian centre. The third Soviet position is bypassed by the STUGs who race into the town although as yet unsupported by any GREN. Casualties are now beggining to mount for both sides, the Soviet commander now orders a more aggressive defense with several local counterattacks pinning down larger SS formations. The Soviets also reinforce the town, while the SU76 platoon does sterling work in the centre, supported by a INF and HMG platoon led by the best Guards officer available, so effective was this small force that the Germans were pushed back and conceded that the east-west road would not be cleared of enemy units. However the town now was being heavily fought over and looked ready to fall, although the STUGs had been attacked by the defending SMG platoons they had stood firm had now supported by foot units had taken 3/4 of the town. The Soviet commander seeing this had to order the weary SU76 platoon to rush to the town to retake some ground, however one STUG platoon which had been DEM and had fled the scene, suddenly rallied (double 1 recovery roll) and managed to destroy the SU76's. This meant that the town would fall giving the Germans a minor victory. If you had asked me to rate this at GT10 I would have said very standard PG fare as the SS seemed to be romping to a major victory, however as losses mounted and the initiative for each side became 0 the Guards units seemed to become more active, in the end this went to the last turn and was as thrilling as any solo game could be. Good scenario
When I first moved to Richmond I was bemused by the number of people who were NASCAR (stock car racing) fans. Quite frankly I couldn't understand the attraction of a sport whose entire focus was summed up by one bumper sticker "Drive Fast, Turn Left". I still have some reservations about the "sport". On the other hand, it very succinctly describes the strategy used by the Germans in this scenario.
The Germans are tagged with the task of taking a town and controlling a road extending to the east of the town. The Soviets set up in a couple of blocking positions along the road and with a significant force in the town. The key to winning this one is the large number of SS troops in comparison to the Soviet force and the firepower of those units.
Rather than assaulting the town directly my German commander decided to send a two company pinning force towards the town with the vast majority of its force to the east to clean up the road and chase away the Soviets who were holding it. There was a hope that the pinning force could capture a town hex or two but no real expectation of it, the real hope was for the main force to "drive fast and turn left" across the two ridges and into the town.
The assault on the eastern part of the field actually goes better than planned as position after position held by the Soviets is surrounded and assaulted into oblivion. The first ridge, however, is littered with disrupted and demoralized SS troopers and leaders with morale bonuses desperately trying to get them to recover, as the last position outside of the town is significant and will require their strength to overcome it.
Meanwhile, near to the town the demonstration force has been able to take one town hex and is effectively doing its job. Should the main force break through they should be able to support the final attack on the town.
As the main SS force approaches the line on the ridge they develop a strategy to hit the Soviet left hard and move around that left, through the woods to the town with all but a pinning force. The Soviets see this and move some troops from the town to support the line. This reduction in force in the town permits the pinning force some more options and the Soviet line in total is forced to contract. As the area held by the Soviets contracts the main force breaks through to the pinning force cutting the Soviets in two and rendering further resistance useless. The SS is able to take both the road and the majority of the town and defeat the Soviets in detail.
The imbalance of forces in this one is significant but the situation is compelling. The title of the scenario comes from the fact that the town taken was quickly given back up as indefensible given the Soviet concentrations. The play was engaging but the victory was never in doubt. The Soviets need some additional troops or the ability to hide to make this one more competitive. As a solo study it is worthwhile. I give it a "3". It is not broken but it is not as good as it could be.